Palace set to fight court OK of Garcia plea bargain

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Malacañang is determined to fight the Sandiganbayan ruling affirming the plea bargain agreement between then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and former Armed Forces of the Philippines comptroller Carlos Garcia.

The government’s top lawyer, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima have been told to “take action,” Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang announced Thursday at a briefing in the Palace.

“We are very disturbed by this development,” said Carandang of the 73-page joint resolution promulgated on Wednesday by the antigraft court’s Special Second Division through Associate Justice Samuel Martirez.

The resolution denied the motion filed by government lawyers, through the Office of the Solicitor General, to intervene “for utter paucity of merit.”

It also dismissed the SolGen’s ruling to set aside the plea bargaining agreement.

Under the agreement, Garcia pleaded not guilty in 2010 to direct bribery and facilitating money laundering, and was no longer charged with plunder, which carries the penalty of life imprisonment. He was allowed to post bail.

Garcia also cleared his family of involvement in the cases he is facing in court.

He also agreed to transfer to the government various assets valued at P135.433 million. Garcia was later released after posting a P60,000 bail.

Insufficient evidence

The Sandiganbayan also said that there was insufficient evidence to convict Garcia of plunder, a nonbailable offense, on the basis of allegations that he received commissions, gifts and kickbacks totaling P303 million from government contractors.

The antigraft court said it could not gratuitously assume that the funds of Garcia and his family were accumulated because of his position in the AFP.

Asked how the Sandigan decision would affect President Aquino’s anticorruption drive, Carandang said, “As you know, this issue led to the impeachment of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, and so we’re certainly disturbed by this latest development.”

“Right now, the Department of Justice and the solicitor general are studying what legal options we may take, but we don’t have a definite course of action right now. But the Department of Justice and the solicitor general are on it,” he said.

Asked about chances, if any, of Garcia evading prosecution, Carandang said, “We’re prepared to take action to contest that.”

Wife, three children

In April 2005, the Office of the Ombudsman slapped Garcia, his wife and three children with a P303-million plunder case for illegal accumulation of wealth.

The case stemmed from an AFP investigation and the Office of the Ombudsman following the detention of two of Garcia’s three sons at San Francisco International Airport in December 2003 for not declaring that they were carrying $100,000 in cash.

P143M not in SALN

In its probe, the Ombudsman found that Garcia, who earned a monthly income of P36,015, had not declared P143 million worth of assets in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) for a number of years.

The Ombudsman ordered his suspension for six months and petitioned the Sandiganbayan antigraft court for the forfeiture of his assets. Garcia was confined to quarters and ordered subjected to court-martial.

40 accounts frozen

The Court of Appeals later ordered the freeze of 40 bank accounts of Garcia and his family. The US government also froze Garcia’s real estate holdings in the states of New York and Ohio.

In November 2004, the Ombudsman filed four counts of perjury against him in connection with the SALN he filed from 1997 to 2000.

Garcia was arrested in June 2005 following the filing of plunder charges in the Sandiganbayan.

In December 2005, a military court found Garcia guilty of violating Articles of War 96 and 97 (or conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, and conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline) for not declaring his true assets and for holding permanent-resident status in the United States.

2 years of hard labor

Garcia was sentenced to two years of hard labor and dismissed dishonorably from the service, thus forfeiting his retirement benefits.

In March 2010, Garcia pleaded not guilty to the money-laundering charge filed by the Ombudsman against him and his family for allegedly conspiring to deposit and withdraw illegally acquired huge amounts using numerous bank accounts between July 2002 and July 2004.

In December 2010, Garcia, after being detained for six years while on trial, was ordered released by the Sandiganbayan after his camp had struck a plea bargain deal with state prosecutors.

But after avoiding conviction in the civilian court, Garcia was convicted in September 2011 by a military court for violation of Articles of War 96 and 97. He was arrested and sent to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City to serve two years in prison.—With a report from Inquirer Research

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  • Jack Bw

    What, P142 million of undeclared assets is insufficient evidence?

    There should be a lifestyle check on these Sandiganbayan justices.

    • Akoaykanoy

      Magagandang bahay sa US samantalang kami rito tutok sa trabaho para makabayad ng aming mga bills

  • speaksoftlylove

    Carandang said, “We are very disturbed of this development.”

    Of course, you should be because this only proves that the removal of former Ombudsman Merciditas Gutierrez and filing of administrative cases against the Ombudsman’s Prosecutors are whimsical, unjustified and blatant grave abuse of power of the palace vendictive occupant. it must be remembered that the only, I repeat ONLY ground for removing Gutierrez is “Garcia’s Plea Bargaining Agreement” which Gutierrez approved and which was drummed up, oft-repeatedly emphasized, and used as the basis for ridicule against the person of Gutierrez and her public prosecutors. Kahit tambakan ninyo pa ng bar topnotchers yang palasyo at dalhin ang kaso sa Supreme Court ay ganun din ang decision simply because the question is a justiciable legal controversy and not a political one.

    I urge the Supreme Court that before they will entertain such a move by the palace, let the disbarment cases against Delima and Lacierda be resolved once and for all. Bakit pinahihinog ng Supreme Court yong kaso nila. Di ba si Delima pa nga ang nagaapura sa decision ng disbarment case niya noong nagaaply pa siya ng Chief Justice? The abuses of the administration using Delima as a convenient laugh dog are revealed as fast as they can ever imagine. Look at the Reyes case in Palawan. Maliwanag pa sa sikat ng araw ang sinabi ng Clourt of Appeals at inulit pa dahil nag MR si Delima thus, “Delima comitted grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction when she order another preliminary investigation despite the fact that a previous preliminary investigation was already concluded and resolved.” Ganun din yang ginawa ng lola Morales ni PNoy sa kaso ni GMA. Maliwanag na abusado sa kapangyarihan si Delima as ordered by PNoy and it is already becoming a vicious habit. Are these not enough grounds for disbarment? Shall we continue to swallow these of mockery of justice and our institutions?

    Therfore Supreme Court.if you are the final bast6ion of justice as you flaunt to be, decide the disbarment cases of Delima and Lacierda as soon as possible to prevent these charlatans from wrecking further havoc and as a reminder to all subservient laugh dogs like Morales. Otherwise, acquit them to your heart’s content.

    • gikiness

      imbesgtigahan na yang Special Second Division through Associate Justice Samuel Martirez. Malamang isa yan sa mga inupo ni Gloria

  • Hey_Dudes

    Poor Philippine government. Not only does it need to fight criminals, it also must deal with corrupt courts. How can you expect peace and harmony developing in the country when almost all sectors of society is constantly wrack by such factions? Me pag-asa pa ba kaya tayo?

  • Joseph St John

    Sandigan Bayan should be investigated for being ignoramus of the law despite the evidences against the Garcias .Pres. Aquino should not relent in punishing the Garcias for grave crime of plunder and dishonesty. If they go free they will escape to the U.S because mga green card holder pala ang mga ito.I hope the U.S will confiscate the green cards of the Garcias because they broke laws in the Phlippines.

    • sigena

      ikaw ba lawyer or loko?

  • UrHONOR

    Samuel Martirez……MAGKANO?

    Pinakawalan na diumano si garciang Magnanakaw sa halagang 60M lang….maning-mani.

    Hindi bale na sana kung susunod siya sa yabag ni reyes….pero kung hindi, NAAAPAKASAMANG precedence ito dahil sa susunod ang magnanakaw ng 1B kapag nahuli at isasauli ang 500MM, abswelto na! Dapat magsama sa kulungan yang si garcia at martirez, kasama si ligot, pichay, abalos, hernandez, uriarte, bolante, mendoza, ebdane, arroyo at Arroyo, atmpb.

  • nice_boy

    Pag nanalo-Justice is served. Pag natalo, nabayaran ang huwes. Kaso wala pa yatang naipanalo eh. Baka naman kaya natatalo e dahil bobo mga abogado o kaya wala talagang ebidensya. Sa trial by publicity lang panalo. Dito lamang talaga sila. Yun lang, walang nakukulong sa trial by publicity.

    • Spidekick

      Yes nice_boy. Either bobo talaga ang mga prosecutor o kung sino man may hawak nito o talagang ang sistema ng hustisya sa Pinas ay pabor sa mga magnanakaw!

      Either way, we’re s c r e w e d!

  • johnlordphilip

    Garcia can afford to return 100 millions to governement, spend 100 millions for payoffs and still keep 100 millions for him and his family. These are the 100 million reasons why it is hard to run after him.

  • NAGMAMARUNONG

    KAPAG KASABWAT ANG OMBUDSMAN, MAGNAKAW, MAGKAMAL NG BILYON BILYON AT ISAULI ANG KALAHATI, KAHIT 500M ANG MAIWAN, INSURED NA HANGGANG IMPYERNO. DI BA?

  • Patrick R

    Just last Tuesday we celebrated our heroes. We should think about the common soldier that doesn’t even have proper boots, armor, bullets and medical care, while villains with stars on their shoulders enrich themselves.

  • marionics

    long time no see yung mga iba ditong nagbaksyon na manananngol ng g___ a hahaha

  • Spidekick

    Heto tayo kada buwan kinakaltasan ng buwis; kada bili ng mga kelangan sa pamumuhay, may EVAT pa…

    Tapos ganito ang ginagawa nila sa kaban ng bayan na para bang isang malaking laro, dahil lang sa mga legal legal technicalities ek ek…

    Tapos marami pa rito kampi pa sa heneral na magnanakaw na ‘to. Ano bang klaseng lipunan ‘to? Naturingang mga kristiyano pero mga kampi sa dimonyo

  • KonsensyaNgBayan

    Kaya maraming Pulis at Sundalong hindi umaasenso at lumilihis sa tamang kalakaran ay dahil sa mga taong tulad nitong Carlos Garcia at mga husgadong baluktot ang paniniwala. Salot at dumi ng lipunan, NPA, Abu Sayaff, o riding in tandem dapat sila’y tinatapatan.

  • ingbilat

    soon to be released a novel; “How to Steal 300 Million without really trying and Easily Getting Away with it!

  • honest man

    Kulang ba talaga ang ebidensya?

  • w4d

    LOL…sa atin, kahit mahuli sa akto, kulang pa rin sa ebidensiya.

  • AllinLawisFair

    There should be a lifestyle check on all the Sandiganbayan justices who acquitted this corrupt thief Garcia. For how on earth can he accumulate so much money (at least 303 million pesos) and buy luxury condominiums in the US with his 36,015 pesos-a-month salary?

  • farmerpo

    I guess it is up to the soldiers to recover their money from Garcia. Mukhang di pdeng sandigan ang sandigang bayan. Declare a clean up week at the AFP.

  • siegfeil

    wow lalo yatang naging corrupt ang courts natin.

  • JasonBieber

    It’s difficult now to know whether Malacanang is really after the truth or just merely attacking political enemies and trying to make it look like a fight against corruption.

    Coz it seems that they attack political enemies then say that they are after corruption but then those who are part of Team PNoy or PNoy KKK’s never get the same treatment. In fact, they get the free pass and even receive bail money and support from PNoy even when there are graft charges against them.

  • rudy_boy

    REVAMP the composition of Sandigan Bayan.

    Inutile ….

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